Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD)
Abdulla Al-Mamoun |
June 04, 2022 00:16:27
June 04, 2022 00:18:15
Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) is a pioneering institute in the field of rural development in Bangladesh. The journey of this pioneering institute began 63 years ago on May 27, 1959. BARD is located in beautiful natural surroundings on a 156-acre campus in Kotbari, 10 km south of the main town of Cumilla. The Founding Director and Managing Director of BARD was Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan, a world renowned sociologist. The Cumilla model of rural development is the result of Dr. Khan’s innovative and dynamic leadership which has brought name and fame both at home and abroad. BARD is an autonomous organization under the Rural Development and Cooperatives Division of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. The three major functions of BARD are training, research and action research. BARD won the Bangladesh Independence Award in 1986 and the Dr. Azizul Haq International Rural Development Award in 2022 for his outstanding contribution to rural development in the country.
Through research and action research, the Academy has brought many innovative rural development programs/models to the nation. As a result of the innovative work of the Academy, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), the Thana Irrigation Scheme incorporated into the BADC, the current complex of ‘Upazila functioning as the center of administration at Upazila level, the Small Farmer Development Foundation (SFDF) and the Comprehensive Village Development Program (CVDP) have become national institutions/programmes and have contributed immensely to the development countryside of the country. In the new development context of the 21st country, the MDGs, SDGs, Vision 2021, Vision 2041 and the government’s five-year plans have given new dimensions to the overall activities of the Academy. Thanks to development-friendly policies and strategies and government support, BARD’s activities during the period 2009-2022 have gained momentum and made remarkable contributions to improving the socio-economic status of the poorest strata. poorest people in Bangladesh.
One of the main functions of the Academy is to train officials and employees of governmental, self-governing and non-governmental organizations, elected officials, rural leaders and people engaged in grassroots rural development. Since its inception, BARD has organized 3,114 training courses, workshops, seminars and orientation programs attended by 2,98,000 domestic and foreign participants. In addition, officials from various countries in Asia and Africa, SAARC countries and Commonwealth countries regularly attend training courses organized by BARD. BARD also provides intellectual support to domestic and foreign researchers. Through the training provided to local government institutions, namely Upazila and Union Parishad, these two institutions can now play a more effective role in local development and better service delivery. Through BARD’s training courses, the trained human resources have been able to contribute more towards self-employment, women’s empowerment, food security through increased productivity, environmental development, etc. in rural areas.
BARD, since its inception, has been conducting research in the area of rural poverty reduction and socio-economic development of the country. The main objective of BARD’s research is to identify the problems prevalent in rural areas of the country and to recommend possible solutions to the government. BARD’s research results help provide policy support to government. In addition, BARD conducts action research based on the results of its research. As BARD conducted research to achieve the MDGs earlier, BARD is committed to conduct research to achieve sustainable development in line with the SDGs adopted by the UN, the current government’s Vision 2041, the 8th Five-Year Plan and the areas government priorities. Since its inception, BARD has conducted more than 700 researches on different thematic areas. The main thematic areas of BARD’s research are sustainable development, rural administration and local government, poverty alleviation, climate change and adaptation, rural economy, business management, education formal and informal, gender development, health and nutrition, agriculture and environmental development, social change and demography, rural institutions, social psychology, good governance and development. On average, BARD conducts 20 searches each year.
In line with its mandate, BARD has been conducting action research since its inception and providing strong policy support to the government based on the results of its action research. During the 1960s, BARD identified the predominant problems of rural areas by conducting research and also prioritized solutions. Since then, through continuous experimentation, BARD has developed a number of successful rural development models which have become known worldwide as the “Cumilla Model”. The Comprehensive Village Development Program (CVDP) which unites all people in a village under one umbrella organization and the Small Farmers’ Development Foundation (SFDF) which is the forerunner of unsecured microcredit in Bangladesh are implemented as programs nationals. Knowledge and experience from BARD’s projects are disseminated to trainees who ultimately help implement effective training. So far, BARD has implemented 73 action researches in the diverse field of development. Currently, BARD is implementing two projects under the Government’s Annual Development Program (ADP). These are: 1) Comprehensive Village Development Program (CVDP) – 3rd phase, and 2) Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development Modernization Project. In addition, BARD conducted 14 action research projects on its own budget. They are: 1) Women’s Education, Income and Nutrition Improvement Project (WEINIP), 2) Improving Rural Livelihoods through Village Organizations and Union Parishad, 3) E -Parishad: Khana profile database for improving rural socio-economic conditions and service delivery. 4) Dairy, Poultry and Goat Demonstration Farm Management and Extension, 5) Mushroom Cultivation and Development Center, 6) Fish Farm Demonstration at BARD Campus, 7) BARD Germplasm Center (Museum plants), 8) Demonstration of organic farming throughout the year Production of vegetables on the BARD campus, 9) Engage rural women in income generating activities to develop the poultry sector in rural areas through the use of low-cost incubator, 10) Aquaculture in floodplains and safe food production through community enterprise, 11) Agricultural mechanization and collective farming through Community Enterprise, 12) Livelihood improvement residents of Char Land through adaptation practices, 13) Tricocompost Production and Research Exhibition at Campus BARD and 14) Qawmi Madrasa Project.
Two important ongoing action research projects from BARD
Integrated agriculture through the Lalmai-Mainamati program
Nation Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamed of building a prosperous country where everyone would have equal opportunity by practicing an egalitarian cooperative village approach. BARD, as part of the realization of the dream of the Father of the Nation, has implemented the Lalmai-Mainamati project under the My House My Farm initiative aimed at improving the living standards of the inhabitants of the hills of Lalmai- Mainamati in the district of Cumilla. through integrated agricultural activities. In line with the policies and development plan of the country, BARD has implemented various successful programs related to agricultural mechanization from the very beginning and played a leading role in bringing about a green revolution in Bangladesh. This project has also supported diversified agricultural activities by introducing various technologies and improved farming practices and simultaneously providing a set of inputs.
Agricultural mechanization and management of collective farms
BARD recently implemented a successful action research titled “Agricultural mechanization and management of collective farms” promote the mechanization of agriculture on large tracts of land through the establishment of community enterprises. A community enterprise was formed comprising owners of 42 acres of cultivated land in the project area with a 10-member management committee. A total of 141 plots owned by 68 landowners were divided into eight large blocks by raising the driveway (land boundary line) through digital surveying. During the boro season, the same paddy variety (BRRI Dhan-74) was planted in the field using a rice transplanter. BARD, Upazila Agricultural Extension Office and Upazila Local Government provided monitoring and technical assistance to all project activities. The production cost of paddy was Tk 487 per maund compared to the typical cost of Tk 717 in the case of traditional labor based farming system. This means that it saves production costs of 230 Tk. By following the machine-based community farming method, 60 maunds of paddy can be produced per acre of land while 54 maunds of paddy can be produced on one acre of land by following traditional tillage. agricultural method based. This indicates that another 6 maunds of paddy can be produced by following the community mechanized farming approach. The net profit per acre from community farming was calculated at Tk 34,805, which is Tk 15,667 more than traditional farming (Tk 19,038). In community mechanized cultivation, the RAC is 2.19 while in the traditional method, the RAC is 1.48. BARD’s experience has shown bright prospects for commercial farming by adopting the community mechanized farming method and at the same time the system has gained popularity in the locality and surrounding localities. It has increased farmers’ leadership skills, decision-making capacity and institutional capacity.
BARD, since the current government came to power, has implemented 28 projects (from 2009 to 2022) with the help of different government and development organizations, of which two projects and 14 action research are at different operational stages. From 2009 to April 2022, around Tk 700 million (70 crores) of loans have been provided to the rural poor with the aim of reducing rural poverty and developing rural livelihoods. As a result, 66,326 people (43,117 men and 23,209 women) got jobs, lifting 332,958 people above the long-term poverty line.
BARD, as a national institute, has fulfilled its responsibilities since its inception. Over time, the socio-economic conditions of rural areas are also changing. BARD always strives to reflect national aspirations according to the changing social context and is always committed to developing new innovative ideas in the field of rural development. BARD is fully aware of the rapid social change that is gaining momentum in the changing global context. BARD believes that rural development is not a fragmented issue, but rather that sustainable development is only possible through the institutionalization of development through the involvement of rural people in the development process.
Abdulla-Al-Mamun is Deputy Director, BARD